By Robert Cyr
The number of Latino victims of violent crimes in the country shot up between 2010 and 2011, according to a recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Bureau of Justice – outpacing the growth in violent crime overall. One state agency blames it on a controversial early release program.
The rate of Latino victimizations went up 42 percent from 2010 to 2011. Violent crimes in general increased 18 percent last year, the first rise in nearly 20 years, and property crimes went up for first time in a decade. The victimization rate is for people 12 and older.
Office of the Victim Advocate spokesman Michelle Cruz could not provide data on victimization rates in Connecticut. She blamed increases in victimization on the Risk Reduction Earned Credit Program, which makes early release available to prisoners for good behavior and other programs, even if they are convicted of a violent crime. The controversial program took heated criticism in September after two men released early were arrested for murder.
“We need to really look at why these crime rates are going up and what has changed,” Cruz said. “What has changed is that we are releasing people earlier through this program, and they’re committing crimes again. When you layer that on top of stats that national violent crime is up, that is an alarming picture for our residents.”
A New Haven Register article quoted Cruz as saying, “… individuals like Wayne Brown benefited from the program. Brown was released from prison in March 2012, and Vernon police charged him in October with sexual assault … She listed Maryann Skwiot as another example of a prisoner who was released early from prison, then was arrested by New Britain police for alleged involvement in a carjacking. Cruz’s office has also indicated that Kezlyn Mendez, who is charged with killing Luthfur Tarafdar in East Hartford, and Frankie Resto, who is charged with killing Ibrahim Ghazal in Meriden, also got credits for an early release.”
According to the Bureau of Justice report, less than half of all crimes, including violent crimes, are reported to police. The growth in violent crime against whites, Latinos, younger people and men accounted for the majority of the increase, according to the report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Michael Planty, chief of victimization statistics at the Bureau of Justice, said numbers were not available for Connecticut and the data was not arranged state-by-state. “The report and collection are not able to provide causal explanations for the increase in these two populations,” Planty said. “We do know that the increases in victimizations for Hispanics and Whites were driven in large part by an increase in assaults, primarily simple assaults.”
Connecticut’s Latino population grew almost 50 percent to about 479,000 from 2000 to 2010, while the number of whites declined less than 1 percent. Hispanics make up 13 percent of the state’s 3.57 million people.
Hartford, with a 43.4 percent Latino population, is home to the second-largest concentration of Puerto Ricans per capita in the U.S. More than 40 percent of Hartford residents claimed Puerto Rican heritage. Among whites and Hispanics, arrests for family-related violence in Hartford dropped dramatically between 2010 and 2011, according to Hartford police arrest data.
Arrests for assaults against family members dropped 70 percent for Latino males, while it fell 57 percent for white males. Latina arrests for family violence dropped 10 percent, while white female arrests fell 25 percent, according to the data.
Hartford police spokesman Nancy M. Mulroy said the department only tracks arrests, not victims. She could not comment on the national increase in victimizations of Latinos, she said.
Graphic © Flickr
By Robert Cyr